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Rise Up! 

Diana Ma’aharo Champions Inclusion For Women and Girls with Disabilities in the Solomon Islands

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Women with disabilities in the Solomon Islands face significant barriers to education and employment. Diana Ma’ahoro experienced this lack of opportunity firsthand as she searched for a job that would allow her to independently support herself. She enrolled in a program called Girls Rise Up! Young Women’s Leadership Workshop, launched in 2010 by the YWCA in the Solomon Islands to equip young women with leadership and advocacy skills. Ma’ahoro was the first woman with a disability to participate in the program. “They trained me, [molded] me, and mentored me to become a good model in Solomon Islands,” she says. After completing the workshop, Ma’ahoro founded her own organization, the Disability Women’s Empowerment Association (DWEA), to focus exclusively on women and girls with disabilities and their inclusion in the Solomon Islands.

Editing assistance by Desmond LaFave

Photo of Melvina Voua.

Filmmaker: Melvina Voua

Melvina Voua is involved in many volunteer activities with youth groups, women’s groups and people with disabilities in her community. A woman with a physical disability, she is a member of People with Disability Solomon Islands (PWDSI), the umbrella body of organizations for people with disabilities in the Solomon Islands. PWDSI advocates for, promotes and protects the rights of persons with disabilities. 

From 2020 to 2022, Voua was employed by PWDSI as a part-time climate change officer to be the point person for the Pacific Disability Forum (PDF) where she carried out research on the impacts of climate change on people with disabilities in the Solomon Islands. By involving herself in the research, she continues to advocate for disability inclusion in humanitarian projects around disaster readiness, climate adaptation and mitigation actions with PWDSI partners and stakeholders. 

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